BikePortland.org

Introducing our new column: Becky Jo’s Carfree Life


My 2nd grander and I when first trying out our new SUV. (Photos: Becky Jo)

(Publisher’s Note: I’m excited to introduce our new Family Biking columnist Becky Jo. You can expect her posts every Tuesday. Enjoy! – Jonathan)

Hi, I’m new here.

Funny story, or at least I hope I’m able to laugh at it someday. My family has gone completely carfree. It seemed like a logical plan at the time. See, our family consists of two parental units, one kid down at PSU in the dorms, one kid in high school, one kid in middle school, and one kid in elementary. (Don’t worry, that factory is closed.)

We had one car for all of us, and if you didn’t have access to said one car, you either waited, took the bus, walked, or biked.

“This was my brilliant idea. Don’t impact the savings, I said. We can go carfree, I said. It will impart a great life lesson on the children, I said.”

It didn’t seem like we were using the car all that much anyway, when we had a sudden and very large financial blow. (This is the part I’m hoping to laugh at some day.) Let’s say it included a naïve child, TikTok, Studio Ghibli movies (that we already owned), Google docs, AT&T, and the FBI. There’s nothing that quite makes you change things in life like contact from the FBI. The fines levied are substantial. We had to decide how to absorb the cost. This was my brilliant idea. Don’t impact the savings, I said. We can go carfree, I said. It will impart a great life lesson on the children, I said.

Now, do you remember when I told you just two paragraphs ago, that if one of us didn’t have the car, we’d use other transportation? Yeah. The bike option was never really used. The bikes were for the occasional Sunday exploration. Very occasional. The youngest can’t even ride on her own yet. I was pulling her in a Burley trailer when the occasional bike excursions happened. We had the hard-bottom, double trailer (read: OMGSOHEAVY.) Other than that, I honestly have no idea what I’m doing.

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That’s what I mean by I’m new here. I’m not new to Portland. I am third generation Oregonian, born up at OHSU. No, I’m not new to our city. I mean, I’m new here, in your arena. We sold the car three weeks ago. I started practicing commutes before we sold it and figured it would be easy peasy. Then, as I was standing at the CarMax in Hillsboro, having just sold my car, I realized I needed a ride home back to North Portland. As I’m standing there, downloading Lyft, then uploading my credit card info and scheduling a stranger to come get me, I realized there’s a lot more to this than I even know to ask.

This is where you come in. I’m the n00b. I bet there’s more of me, maybe afraid to admit they have no clue what they’re doing. Maybe that’s you. Or maybe you have been here awhile, and as my questions come up (and trust me, I already have a list) maybe you can help me and others out. Or maybe just come for the laughs. Because, FBI.

— Becky Jo, @BeckyJoPDX

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